12 Sep 2015 Paul Goble, esti.ca
Staunton, September 12 – One of the reasons for the success Vladimir Putin has had in his propaganda efforts is that he has exploited a dangerous trend in Western media – the proclivity of many journalists and their audiences to equate “balance” with “objectivity” – by putting out as an “alternative” viewpoint something that is nothing more than a lie.
In a comment for the “EU Observer” yesterday, Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania’s foreign minister, has sharply criticized this unfortunate pattern and its consequences and has pointed out that “a lie isn’t an alternative point of view;” it is simply a lie and needs to be identified as such (euobserver.com/opinion/130188).
Many in Europe and the West, Linkevicius writes, tend “to consider propaganda as an exotic bug which only affects the lives of people far away – in Ukraine, Georgia, [and] Russia. But carefully-packaged lies are finding their ways to audiences all over Europe,” as a result of “a systematic and heavily-funded campaign.”
“Saying that the West is immune because we have a plethora of media outlets isn’t true,” the Lithuanian diplomat continues. ...
Earlier this year, he writes, he and his counterparts from Denmark, Estonia and the United Kingdom called on the EU to “respond to Kremlin propaganda with a ‘4 As’ approach: ensure information alternatives, raise public awareness, be assertive on proactive communication of facts, and request accountability from media outlets.”
That has “nothing to do with censorship or with producing our own propaganda/lies,” he argues. Rather, it involves both providing alternative sources for Russian-language audiences and changing “our own thinking. We need to understand that [Russian] propaganda is directed against all of Europe, not just the east, and we need to start calling things by their proper names.”
“A [Russian] T-90 tank in Ukraine isn’t just a ‘vehicle,’” he concludes. “A lie is not an alternative point of view. [And] propaganda is not a legitimate form of public diplomacy.” Only “our naivete is preventing us from taking appropriate action, even as the other side advances its undeclared info-war.”